‘Felden homes will address housing shortage in Belfast’

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Sinn Fein Councillor Gerry O’Reilly has said new homes on the former Felden training centre site will help address the housing need of north Belfast nationalists.

In a statement the Antrim Line representative accused unionists of “cynical electoralism” during debate on housing provision in a council meeting.

Councillor O’Reilly said: “Clearly housing must be allocated on the basis of need not creed and over 90 per cent of those in housing crisis in north Belfast are nationalists.

“The attempt by the unionist parties to limit access to housing for nationalists by skewing the figures or demographics is a sham fight as the Felden development has been passed by the council.

“My party remain consistent on the issue of resources being targeted to address the greatest need and tackling the housing crisis for north Belfast’s nationalist community is a top priority for Sinn Fein.

“I would encourage people to include this great local community as one of their choices rather than remain on the housing waiting list. There’s no doubt the 97 new homes will be snapped up by those at the top of the waiting list and the council would be better served debating how we collectively target amenities into these new developments than blustering in advance of elections.”

DUP Councillor Thomas Hogg responded: “Councillor O’Reilly’s comments are a poor attempt to justify what is an indefensible and unethical imbalance in the provision of social housing in Newtownabbey.

“Councillor O’Reilly does not represent the Bawnmore and Longlands areas and clearly knows little of the local housing need.

“His own electoral area has a five year projected need of 96 social units, yet there is zero new builds programmed.

“I think his own constituents are entitled to expect he might give greater attention to the need in the area he was elected to represent.”